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The Southeast Division Can Make Us Better (Again)

Another day, another group of players put on waivers.  With the waiver deadline coming up at 3:00 p.m. EST tomorrow there's sure to be even more coming so there will likely be at least one more look tomorrow night.  The Oilers have already lost one player to waivers and are waiting hopefully on another with Rob Schremp going to Long Island and Liam Reddox waiting in limbo.  There are also a couple of former Oilers hitting the wire, as both Mathieu Roy and Tim Sestito have been placed on waivers by the Bluejackets and Devils respectively.  In spite of the fact that Sestito killed (two) penalties for the Oilers last year, there should be no interest in either guy.  So who's out there that the Oilers might consider looking at?  We'll take a look at one more player after the jump.

The player of interest in this edition is from the (why is it always the bad teams) Atlanta Thrashers: Nathan Oystrick.  Now, Oystrick is a defenceman which is already an area of strength on this squad but there are things to like about his game.

First of all, Oystrick is a veteran AHL blueliner as he will be turning 27 years old later this year and he has only appeared in 53 career NHL games all of which came last year in Atlanta.  As such, most of his previous professional experience has been in the AHL which is where I'll look first.  His first two full AHL seasons saw him bring quite a bit of offence to the table as he amassed 90 points in 160 AHL regular season games over two years.  He also posted good +/- numbers both seasons (flawed as the stat is it should differentiate him from someone who can't check his hat).  Although he's not particularly large (6'0'' and 200 lbs.) he didn't shy away from the rough stuff as he had 14 fighting majors over his two AHL seasons.  Finally, and this is the biggest recommendation of all, he played well enough to earn a call to the show in 2008-09 as a 26 year-old rookie.

His small amount of NHL experience is not great, but it's also nothing to be ashamed of.  He was sheltered at EV, taking only 25 more defensive zone draws than offensive zone draws (which is being sheltered in Atlanta) while playing the easiest competition among the six defencemen who played at least 40 games.  His teammates ranked middle-of-the-pack.  So from the outset, he was in a favourable situation.  But he played well.  His Corsi of (exactly) 0 was by far the best of the top 6 Atlanta D and his 5v5 goal differential of -1 is not too shabby and 10 EV points in 50 games isn't bad either.  All in all, this is a very acceptable performance for a bottom pairing D.  It's certainly better than what the Oilers got last year with Jason Strudwick in the lineup.

Finally, as is so often the case, with this player it comes down to money.  His cap hit is a mere $563,750 over the next two seasons and given the price of the top four D, a player like Oystrick gives the Oilers a chance for some very cheap depth going into a potential cap crunch next year.  It's likely that the Oilers will need to move Staios from the backend if they want to keep the big four together and it sure would be nice to have a veteran hand ready to step in if Theo Peckham struggles.  For this year, the Oilers could easily waive either Strudwick or MacIntyre (and use Struds as 8D/14F, which would be my preference) and be better off.  It's a minor move but - in spite of what the Oilers actions have at times implied - depth is a good thing. 

Any other suggestions?  Just one so far, and he has a lot of things the Oilers looked for at camp this year.  He's a former top ten pick!  By the Columbus Bluejackets no less!  AND he hasn't yet had any sustained success at the AHL level!  And this one's got size